Review: Back to the Rock S2 – Episode 12 ‘Letting Go’

Published: June 19, 2024
Categories: Feature, Reviews

Today’s review was written by our old friend and Muppet Mindset regular, Kieran Moore!

I guess it’s part of the changing landscape of TV that standalone episodes are becoming a dying breed – back in the day most “half hour” shows (regardless of genre) featured very little continuity. In the 80’s, Blanche’s new boyfriend came and went in 22 minutes; and He-Man saved Eternia in very short order with everything wrapped up in a bow ready for next time. Fraggle Rock was largely the same. Of course, towards the end of the original show continuity did appear in the storyline with Gobo and Doc. But by and large, it featured much, much less.  

Nowadays with streaming services desperate to get viewers to binge a series, there seems to be a need to end an episode on a cliff-hanger and I’m especially feeling the change with this season of Fraggle Rock

Let me explain… 

When I was first asked to review this episode of Back to the Rock, I hadn’t yet gotten around to watching any of season 2, so as an experiment I decided to watch just this episode and see if it still made sense. Could the penultimate episode be watched and enjoyed with no knowledge of what had taken place before? Could I ignore the last 11 episodes? Would this be an exercise in “Letting Go”?  

Although I wish the title “Letting Go” was a reference to renting out the starting space on a Monopoly board, it’s actually much simpler with various characters learning to let go of something or someone. Mokey is my favorite Fraggle, so I was incredibly happy to see the A-plot centered around her need to realize Lanford (who was new to me) was growing up and ready to take his place in the Gorgs’ garden. The ubiquitous Gobo was on hand to show Mokey the error of her ways. To be fair to Gobo, as much as I often find him insufferable, he was right to do so – I just tire of him being involved in everyone else’s business and can’t help but feel a different character could have been used instead. 

The B-plot is about Red, Wembley and Boober building part of a wind turbine. This is a fun story about how the three Fraggles all tackle the task in different ways and must let go of their fixed methodology in order to work as a team. I really liked how each Fraggle’s way of working suited their individual character, but for me this was where the plot started to unravel.

I understand that in a show about co-operation it was important to include as many species as possible in Cotterpin’s plan – but leaving building something this big to the Fraggles when the Gorgs are right there seemed especially silly. Even if you give that a pass, leaving it to just three Fraggles seemed even sillier. Where was everyone else?  

The C-plot featured Doc letting go of Sprocket and sending him off to Doggy Day Camp and coming to terms with him not being at home. This plot was incredibly thin but reinforced the main storyline and at least gave them something to do. The D-plot (if you can call it that) involved Pa Gorg giving up his book to make the wind turbine run. While just about every group of characters is seen letting something go, the Doozers reverse the trend with Architect Doozer deciding to keep his adorable strawberry hat.  

Throughout the course of all this there were a million things I didn’t understand. What has happened to the Gorgs’ garden and the radishes? I’m guessing it was to do with Pa’s book…? There was mention of a dust storm that I obviously missed, and I have never seen Lanford before so that was a mystery. Whatever is going on with the strawberries has also passed me by…

None of this is a dealbreaker since I purposely decided to watch this episode out of synch, but it does show that Back to the Rock isn’t the same show Fraggle Rock was all those years ago. It’s not really for me to say whether that’s bad or good, but I do know that I still enjoy watching one-off episodes of the original Fraggle Rock just for fun and I don’t know if today’s pre-schoolers will be able to do the same without a good memory.  

That said, there’s no such thing as a bad episode of Fraggle Rock. This episode has some strong emotional moments, and these are lightened by wonderful silliness along the way. The performers and puppetry are consistently amazing, and I do love seeing the whole Fraggle Universe on a bigger scale than ever before. The creatives behind the sets get a standing ovation from me. There are times when I look at Fraggle Rock now and the scale almost feels on a par with Dark Crystal or Labyrinth.  

Strongest Moment: Ok, this possibly isn’t the strongest moment, but my actual pick is included elsewhere so I’m giving this to Wembley’s “Can I bounce something off of you?” joke. A moment so silly Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker could have written it. I love it!  

Weakest Moment: Gobo choosing to read Uncle Matt’s postcard to Mokey when she’s dangling over the edge of a pit just feels too ridiculous for words.  

MVF (Most Valuable Fraggle): I’ve gone back and forth over this for a while. Mokey is the main Fraggle of the episode, but in terms of value to the story Gobo should probably take top spot. I’m also loving how take-charge Ma Gorg is so she’s a strong contender too. But I’m going to give the prize not to a Fraggle or a Gorg, but to the Inkspot with the duster in the Great Hall. I couldn’t take my eyes off them. According to Muppet Wiki it was Dan Garza performing so kudos to them.  

The Grand Return Of…: Not having seen the rest of the season it’s hard to say, but I’m giving this to Sherry Contrary who is completely new to me.  

Classic Musical Moment: This is actually my strongest moment of the episode. “Lose Your Heart (And It’s Found)” is a fantastic piece of Fraggle music and a true testament to the genius of Balsam and Lee. There’s not a version of this song that isn’t great – check out the recording by Sin Fang, which is a rare enjoyable moment from those slightly dubious Fraggle Rock cover albums, for proof. Originally sung by Cantus, the MC Escher-like lyrics are heart-breaking and uplifting in equal measure and really do a lot to elevate the emotions in this episode. It’s this song that really sells the theme of “Letting Go” – despite it originating elsewhere. When I hear these lyrics and those harmonies, I feel it.  

New Musical Moment: “Same Page” is a really fun song, that I absolutely adore. Is it just me or did anyone else get Drag Race vibes from this? You know how they make the cast write their own verses to one of RuPaul’s songs in their own style? My biggest surprise here was that Red didn’t sing about “snatching the crown” – after all, Boober does a death drop…  

Coolest Puppetry Effect: The full-body puppeteering on “Same Page” takes it for me. It’s nothing new in terms of the mechanics, but I love how well it’s done. The dancing Fraggles are so expressive and their moves are characterful and fun.  

Darkest Moment: I guess Mokey dangling over a huge pit could be seen as dark – in particular, her instantly thinking that when Gobo says to hold on with both hands, he means Lanford’s pot and not the vine that’s keeping her safe.  

Fraggle Lore: I don’t know if this counts as Fraggle Lore, but I like that Architect Doozer’s lighter side seems to reference his creative backstory (drawing was his passion). Also, Gobo says having no radishes is the biggest challenge the rock has ever faced – but what about The Great Radish Famine? 

One More Thing: The copywriter in me really appreciates the dog puns in the Doggy Day Camp flyer. I have been that writer and I will be again…  

Okay, One More Thing: This could be my lack of knowing the full story, but does Cotterpin’s plan not basically amount to ripping apart Marjory? I’m sure they said something about using garbage from the Gorgs’ garden. Maybe that’s next week’s “Darkest Moment”… 

by Kieran Moore

Click here to remind Kieran that Lanford was in the original series on the ToughPigs Discord Server!

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